Singhu border on Monday was abuzz with rounds of applause for a ‘nukkad natak’ that protesting farmers said they could relate to very well. The group travels from village to village to convey their message.
People’s Art Patiala performed a 25-minute play, depicting what they believe will be the implications of the third farm law on storage of essential commodities.
It was titled ‘Jina di anakh jyondi ae (Those who have self-respect)’. They have been performing the play for the last two months and done over 300 shows.
The play portrays how the prices of crops will increase if they are not stored by the Food Corporation of India and by the private players instead. “We visit at least four villages a day, sometimes five, and perform two plays that we have made on the farm laws,” said Satpal, director of the play and founder of the group.
Talking about the response, Mr. Satpal said that people throw shoes at the actor who plays the villain, representing corporates and that’s when they feel the play is a hit. He also said that the expenses of travelling and other necessities are borne either by themselves or by their audience who pay them for their performance. “Just like every nukkad natak artist, we also circulate our dafli [drum] among the crowd. Thankfully, throughout the period of protest, people have been generous,” the director said, adding they call themselves “culture labourers” because the expected earning for the day is about ₹300.
In his opinion, the best outcome of the protest is that it has broken the “limited” caste barriers in Punjab and dalits and upper-caste land-owners have come together.
Members of the group include 22-year-old Jaspreet Singh, who has a degree of Masters in Arts (Theatre). His parents are both labourers. Jatinder Sonu, a 29-year-old, who holds a degree in fashion designing, is also one of the members.
Meanwhile, at the protest site, protesting farmers on Monday continued to build shelters for themselves despite the Samyukta Kisan Morcha announcing against it on Sunday.
Virender Singh (35) from Kaithal, who was constructing a room with iron rods as base, said that they don’t have any option other than that if the SKM wants the protest to continue. “Many of our trollies will have to go back because they are required in the fields at this time of the year. We need a place to stay,” he said.
Charanjeet Singh (25), who hails from Fatehgarh Sahib and has beautified the outer side of a trolley with green net and posters to beat the heat, said that they have to take such measures as the protests does not seem to end. “The results of West Bengal elections will have a role to play. Our leaders have gone there to urge people not to vote for the BJP. If they [BJP candidates] lose, they will take us seriously. If they don’t, we are even prepared to stay till December,” he said.